Warner Brothers Pictures Started at a studio on Sunset Blvd. In Hollywood in 1918 and Incorporated in 1923The company's name originates from the four founding Warner brothers (born Wonskolaser or Wonsal before Anglicization):] Harry, Albert, Sam, and Jack Warner.Over the next month or so, I'll post about the "Big 6" in Hollywood, the major studios. Tonight, it's all about Warner Bros. Pictures
, known for everything from Casablanca
to My Fair Lady, Bonnie & Clyde,
to the series of films with The Matrix, Harry Potter, The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, The Dark Knight
and almost every Clint Eastwood film you can imagine.
One of the most respected, diversified and successful motion picture and television studios in the world, Warner Bros. Studios began when the brothers Warner (Albert, Sam, Harry and Jack L.) incorporated their fledgling movie company on April 4, 1923
. In 1927, the release of the world’s first “talkie,” (synchronized-sound feature film), The Jazz Singer
, set a character and tone of innovation and influence that would become synonymous with the name Warner Bros. And—as Al Jolson foretold in this milestone movie—“you ain’t heard nothin’ yet!”
Since those early days, Warner Bros. Studios has amassed long-term creative relationships with many of the world’s leading talent, and an unwavering dedication to excellence.Today, the vast Warner Bros. library, one of the most prestigious and valuable in the world, consists of more than 79,000 hours of programming, including nearly 7,500 feature films and 4,500 television programs
comprised of tens of thousands of individual episodes.In books chronicling the American film industry, the brothers are all legendary, especially the flamboyant showman Jack L. Warner
. Pioneers in their own right, the Warners brought sound to movies, introduced the first “four-legged star,” revitalized the movie musical, created the gangster-picture era, and produced a number of socially significant films that evoked national awareness about growing problems of their times.In 1903, the brothers began in the film business as traveling exhibitors, moving throughout Ohio and Pennsylvania with their portable projector
. One of the first pictures they showed was Edwin S. Porter's The Great Train Robbery
, the first motion picture to tell a definite story. By 1907, they were operating from a converted store in New Castle, Pennsylvania, which they named the Cascade Theatre. With Albert and Harry selling tickets, Sam ran the hand-crank projector while Jack sang “illustrated” songs during the intermissions to sister Rose's piano accompaniment. Within the year, they had opened two more theaters in New Castle.By 1908, the Warners had acquired 200 film titles, distributing films throughout western Pennsylvania (as the Duquesne Film Exchange)
and, later, opened new exchanges in Norfolk, Virginia and Atlanta, Georgia. Realizing, however, that the large profits from movies would come not just from distribution and exhibition, but also from production, the Warners moved to California and established a small production base at 18th and Main Streets in Culver City.
Their first full-scale picture, My Four Years in Germany
, based on the best-selling book by America's ambassador to the court of Kaiser Wilhelm, premiered in 1918 and grossed an amazing (for that time) $1.5 million.Later that year, the Warner brothers purchased property at 5842 Sunset Boulevard for $25,000, and the Warner Bros. West Coast Studios was born
. With Harry as president and Albert as treasurer, guiding the company's finances, Sam and Jack focused on production, incorporating their new movie studio on April 4, 1923.Their projects included The Beautiful and Damned(, which employed a young writer named F. Scott Fitzgerald, adapting his novel for the screen. In 1924, they created the world's first “four-legged superstar,” *Rin Tin Tin, who would become known to the Warners as “the mortgage lifter” for his box-office reliability. At the other end of the artistic spectrum, the Warners could proudly point to Beau Brummel, starring a handsome young John Barrymore. They also enjoyed an alliance with director Ernst Lubitsch, whose _The Marriage Circle
and Kiss Me Again
brought the Studio much critical acclaim.
And although Warner Bros. was now established as a complete film company, showcasing both successful commercial and artistic properties, it lacked company-owned theaters and thus struggled to compete in the Hollywood community.In May 1925, Sam and Harry heard the first faint sounds of “talking pictures” in the New York offices of Bell Laboratories' parent company, Western Electric
. Sam, self-taught in mechanics, instantly recognized the groundbreaking potential of this new technology and immediately installed the new sound equipment in their just-acquired Vitagraph Studios in Brooklyn.On October 6, 1927, Warner Bros. Pictures released The Jazz Singer, starring Al Jolson, and a whole new era began, with “pictures that talked,” bringing the Studio to the forefront of the film industry
. The Jazz Singer
played to standing-room-only crowds throughout the country and earned a special Academy Award for technical achievement.However, Sam Warner paid for his family’s triumphant achievement with his life—dying of sheer exhaustion the day before the movie premiered
. The Warners went on to quickly produce the first “all-talking” movie and their first “talking” gangster film, The Lights of New York
. By late 1928, the rush for sound was on, with the Warners well out in front.
In 1928, the brothers bought The Stanley Company of America for its theater chain, which included one-third ownership of First National Pictures. Later that year, they purchased the rest of First National, acquiring a newly built studio in Burbank (in California’s San Fernando Valley, which today remains the home of Warner Bros. Studios)
. The Warners invested heavily into converting the new studio into the finest movie sound facility in the world. Stages were soundproofed, and underground conduits linked each stage with a special state-of-the-art sound building where recording could take place under exacting laboratory conditions.The Studio’s “contract players” became some of the greatest stars of all time: Bette Davis, James Cagney, Paul Muni, Humphrey Bogart, Edward G. Robinson and Errol Flynn, among others
. Behind the camera were Hal Wallis, Darryl F. Zanuck, Busby Berkeley, Michael Curtiz, William Wellman, Howard Hawks and Mervyn LeRoy, to name just a few.
Among the major films produced during the 1930s were The Petrified Forest
(Bette Davis, Leslie Howard and Humphrey Bogart), Little Caesar
(Edward G. Robinson) and The Public Enemy
(James Cagney)—the latter two ushering in a “neo-realistic” approach to film storytelling and the trend toward “tough-guy” movies.
With Darryl F. Zanuck as Jack Warner's production chief, director Mervyn LeRoy made I Am a Fugitive From a Chain Gang
, a film that led to prison reform. Black Legion
(dealing with the Ku Klux Klan), Black Fury
(about the mistreatment of coal miners) and They Won't Forget
(about prejudice and lynching in the Deep South) were all fact-based, hard-hitting exposés reflecting America’s social problems.
The company also produced A Midsummer Night’s Dream
, directed by the great Max Reinhardt and William Dieterle, Busby Berkeley's 42nd Street
, and many lavish Errol Flynn swashbucklers. These were intermixed with classic filmed biographies on the lives of Benjamin Disraeli, Louis Pasteur, Benito Juarez and Émile Zola, the latter earning the Studio its first Oscar for Best Picture in 1937. The ‘30s also marked the beginning of the now-classic Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies cartoons.
Releasing some 40 pictures a year in the 1940s, the Studio produced such classics as The Maltese Falcon, Sergeant York, King's Row, Yankee Doodle Dandy, Casablanca
(the Studio’s second Best Picture Oscar), Mildred Pierce, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre
and Johnny Belinda.The 1950s brought A Streetcar Named Desire, House of Wax (in 3-D), A Star Is Born, The High and the Mighty, Dial ‘M’ for Murder, Mister Roberts, Hondo, Moby Dick, The Bad Seed, The Searchers, Sayonara, Marjorie Morningstar, Auntie Mame, The Nun's Story
and the three films which made James Dean a legend: East of Eden, Rebel Without a Cause
.During the 1960s, Warner Bros. Pictures released such notable films as Ocean’s Eleven, Splendor in the Grass, Gypsy, The Music Man, My Fair Lady
(the Studio’s third Best Picture Oscar), The Great Race, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?, Bonnie and Clyde, Camelot, Cool Hand Luke
and The Wild Bunch
. On the television side, Warner Bros. Television debuted such hits as F Troop
and The FBI
. In 1967, an aging Jack Warner sold the Studio to Elliot and Ken Hyman, and it was renamed Warner Bros.-Seven Arts
. In November of the same year, Albert Warner died at the age of 83.Seven Arts’ association with the Studio was short-lived. In November 1969, Steve Ross and his Kinney Corporation purchased the company, and it became Warner Communications, Inc
. Ross had also purchased DC Comics (and its classic characters) in 1968 and Ted Ashley’s talent agency, Ashley Famous Agency in 1967. DC Comics was folded into WCI, while Ashley Famous was spun off to avoid conflicts of interest. Ted Ashley stayed on board as Chairman & CEO of Warner Bros., who with the help of Frank Wells and John Calley, ushered the Studio into the next decade
.The 1970s saw the release of such landmark films as Woodstock, A Clockwork Orange, Klute, Dirty Harry, What's Up, Doc?, The Exorcist, Blazing Saddles, Mame, Barry Lyndon, Dog Day Afternoon, All the President's Men, The Outlaw Josey Wales, Oh, God!, The Goodbye Girl
, a remake of A Star Is Born and Superman
. And, in the television arena, such hits as Kung Fu, Harry O, Alice, Chico and the Man, Wonder Woman, Welcome Back, Kotter
and The Dukes of Hazzard
made their debuts.The ‘70s also saw the rise of a new genre of television programming—the miniseries—in which the Studio established an almost unequaled record of excellence from the start
. The incomparable David L. Wolper began his exclusive agreement with Warner Bros. in 1976 and went on to produce some of television's most-watched and most-honored productions, including Roots, Roots: The Next Generation, The Thorn Birds, North & South
and Alex Haley's Queen
. In 1978 Jack Warner died—the same year that the studio he had co-founded showed record profits.Beginning in December of 1980, under the new leadership of Robert A. Daly and Terry Semel, Warner Bros. made artistic and box-office history
with such films as the Academy Award-winning Chariots of Fire, The Right Stuff, The Killing Fields, The Color Purple, The Mission, The Accidental Tourist, Dangerous Liaisons
, the Police Academy films, Arthur, Private Benjamin, The World According to Garp
, the National Lampoon's Vacation
movies, Empire of the Sun, Full Metal Jacket, The Witches of Eastwick, Stand and Deliver
, as well as such worldwide phenomena as Superman II, Superman III, Lethal Weapon, Lethal Weapon 2 and _Batman (which spawned one of the most lucrative franchises in movie history
and the establishment of Warner Bros. Consumer Products).
In the ‘80s, Warner Bros. Television launched some of its most-popular and most-acclaimed programming ever, including Murphy Brown, Life Goes On, China Beach, Growing Pains, Spenser: For Hire, Scarecrow and Mrs. King
and Head of the Class
.In 1989, Warner Bros. initiated its strategy of growing a market for its films by building state-of-the-art multiplex theaters in underserved territories overseas
, operating them until they are mature businesses and then moving onto new frontiers. The first of these ventures was in Australia.
That same year, Warner Communications, Inc. acquired entertainment powerhouse Lorimar Telepictures, one of the most prolific and highly regarded production companies of the day. Putting the rich Lorimar library under the extraordinary Warner Bros. Studios umbrella secured Warner Bros.’ place as the leader in both feature films and television.
Beginning with its multi-Emmy Award-winning series The Waltons
, Lorimar had built a tradition of quality and innovative programming. The company not only introduced television's first miniseries, The Blue Knight
, in 1972, but also presented the first primetime serial and forebear of primetime soap operas, Dallas
. Along with Dallas
, Lorimar produced a number of notable series, including Knots Landing, Falcon Crest, Eight is Enough, Full House, The Hogan Family, Perfect Strangers, Step by Step_ and Family Matters
.The 1990s was a seminal decade for the Studio, starting with the 1990 merger of Warner Communications, Inc. and Time Inc. to form Time Warner, Inc., one of the world’s largest communications and entertainment companies
. Other important milestones include: the Studio’s creation and utilization of a unique film co-financing and worldwide distribution business model; the revitalization of Warner Bros. Animation with the animated television series Steven Spielberg Presents Tiny Toon Adventures
(1991); the opening of Warner Bros.’ first international theme park (Movie World in Australia, 1991); the consolidation of Warner Bros. Television and Lorimar Television (1993); the debut of such megahits as ER, Friends
and The Drew Carey Show
(1994, 1994 and 1995, respectively); the launch of the company’s first, and the country’s fifth, national television network, The WB (1995); becoming a dominant force in the production and worldwide distribution of first-run syndicated programming; taking over of the management of the Turner library (1996); becoming an early adopter of the Internet as a promotional tool and outlet for original content; and leading the development and the launch of the revolutionary DVD format.At the box office in the 1990s, Warner Bros. Pictures continued to break records and earn critical raves around the world
. The decade got off to a great start as Driving Miss Daisy
won Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Actress and Best Screenplay for 1989. Best Picture Oscar nominations followed for GoodFellas
(1990) and JFK
(1991). Clint Eastwood’s Unforgiven
(1992) garnered four Oscars (Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor and Best Editing), followed by an Oscar nomination for The Fugitive
(1993). The Studio made history in 1999 when, for the first time, its domestic box office surpassed the $1 billion mark and for the third time in the 1990s, it passed $1 billion internationally. The Matrix
, alone, took in some $460 million at the worldwide box office, breaking Warner Bros. Pictures’ worldwide revenue record and creating an extraordinary new brand for the Studio.On October 4, 1999, 28-year-Warner Bros. veteran Barry Meyer and Castle Rock Entertainment’s Alan Horn took over the reins of Warner Bros
. (as Chairman & CEO and President & COO, respectively) from Daly and Semel, marking the end to one of the most enduring and successful partnerships in the history of the entertainment industry and the beginning of a new, record-breaking era of profitability in the history of the Studio.
The year 2000 brought the Studio continued success with such films as The Perfect Storm, Space Cowboys
and Castle Rock’s Miss Congeniality
In 2001, Warner Bros. Pictures shattered every one of its own box office records and several industry records thanks to the beginning of the Harry Potter phenomenon (Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone), Ocean’s 11, A.I. Artificial Intelligence, Cats & Dogs
and, internationally, Miss Congeniality
. Domestic box office reached $1.23 billion, and international box office soared to $1.34 billion. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone took in a worldwide box office of $973.6 million, and became the Studio’s highest-grossing film and the industry’s third-highest grossing film of all time in worldwide box office.
The second Harry Potter film (Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
, which became the fourth-highest grossing film internationally of all time), Scooby-Doo, Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, Insomnia, A Walk to Remember
and Two Weeks Notice
made 2002 another record-breaking year for Warner Bros. Pictures, with box office receipts surpassing the $1 billion mark for the third time domestically and the fifth time internationally. Warner Bros. Pictures’ $1.6 billion in international receipts led all studios and was both a new record for Warner Bros. Pictures, as well as the second-highest gross ever from a major studio... #warnerbros #oldhollywood #hollywoodstudios #movies #filmmaking #films #jackwarner #rintintin #harrypotter #clinteastwood #matrix #cagney #bogart #errolflynn #casablanca via/ http://www.warnerbros.com/studio/about-studio/company-historyvia/ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Warner_Bros